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Description

This is a detailed navigational chart showing the whole of the Pacific Northwest, stretching from northern California to southern British Columbia. Many minor coastal and riverine towns are labeled, including some that would become major cities, such as Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Victoria, and Everett. The many San Juan Islands are shown and labeled, with the southern portion of Vancouver Island shown in detail. The map was designed to be a working navigational chart, and as such includes a vast amount of detail along the coast. Away from rivers, only railroads and major mountains are named inland.

Seven inset maps are provided. These show Cape Flattery (northwesternmost tip of mainland Washington), Grays Harbor (mouth of the Chehalis), the entrance to the Umpqua, Coos and Yaquina Rivers, Orford Reef, and Humboldt Bay. These provide an additional level of detail in areas particularly challenging to navigate. Additionally, a view of Cape Flattery, as seen from the ocean, is shown.

The map shows soundings, reefs, currents, buoys, lighthouses, bottom sediment, and many other details of use to the navigator. Additional notes further interest to the chart. A note in Grays Harbor notes the seasonal changes of bar depths, an intriguing sedimentological observation. Further notes describe lighthouses that have been destroyed or passages that should not be used for various reasons. A note in the upper right measures the tides at various localities. 

As with all British Admiralty charts, this map provides a wealth of information while preserving a simple and attractive design. It focuses on a particularly desirable area, showing the coastal Pacific Northwest in its entirety.

British Admiralty Biography

The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.

In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.

Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.

In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.

Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.

During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.